Anu Singh

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Anu Singh
Born (1972-09-03) 3 September 1972 (age 42)
Criminal penalty 10 years imprisonment
Criminal status Released
Conviction(s) Manslaughter

Anu Singh (born 3 September 1972) is an Australian of Indian descent who, in 1997, while a law student at the Australian National University, killed her boyfriend, Joe Cinque. She laced his coffee with Rohypnol, then injected him with heroin. The crime was very widely reported in Australia. After completing four years in prison, Singh has attracted controversy with her stated career aims with regard to the justice system.

Joe Cinque's death[edit]

In 1997, Singh and Cinque lived together in Canberra. A friend of Singh's told her 1998 trial that Singh had been obsessed with her body starting from 1991 and had briefly taken Ipecac after Cinque mentioned it, something she was later angry with him for. In May 1997 she told a friend that she wanted to kill a number of people, including Cinque and her doctors.[1]

Singh's close friend Madhavi Rao invited acquaintances to two dinner parties in October 1997 and told them that a terrible crime would be committed.[2] Witness Sanjeeva Tennekoon reported that the first dinner party on 24 October was normal and that Singh and Cinque appeared loving[3] but another witness told the court that Rao had told her afterwards that Singh had tried to kill Cinque that evening but could not deliver a sufficient dose, and that the witness had threatened to go to the police.[4] The day after the first dinner party, Singh and Rao went to a friend, Len Mancini, and told him they had given Cinque drugs the previous evening.[5]

Cinque died on 26 October 1997, the morning after the second dinner party. The toxicology reports showed high levels of heroin and Rohypnol in his body.[6]

Witness Ross Manley claimed that Singh bought further heroin from Manley's friend on the morning of 26 October.[7] Singh called an ambulance for Cinque at 12:10pm on 26 October, and the ambulance officers found that he had had a cardiac arrest.[7][8] She made it difficult for the ambulance to respond quickly, giving false information about where she lived.[9] Singh told police at the scene that she had administered drugs to Cinque.[10] Police reported that when they arrived at the scene, Singh was hysterical and struggled with police and ambulance officers when they took her away from Cinque's body.[11]

Trial and imprisonment[edit]

Singh first appeared in court on 28 October 1997 charged with murder. She had told police that she had injected Cinque with heroin so that he would not interfere with a suicide attempt.[12] Madhavi Rao was charged with conspiracy to commit murder and released on bail on 5 November.[13] The prosecutor noted that both Singh and Rao had been indiscreet about their actions.[2] Singh applied for bail in December, and a psychiatrist presented evidence of a personality disorder.[14]

Singh and Rao were tried jointly in October and November 1998, but this trial was aborted on 11 November, with Justice Ken Crispin saying that one of the pieces of evidence was problematic as it was unclear as to which of Singh or Rao it was admissible against.[15] For her second trial, Singh elected to stand trial by judge alone, forgoing a jury. Crispin J ruled that Singh and Rao had to have separate trials in the interest of fairness.[16]

In her 1999 trial, Singh's defence presented evidence that Singh was mentally ill and had diminished responsibility.[17] The prosecutors called an expert witness to testify that Singh had appeared rational and assertive on the night she was arrested.[18] On 23 April Crispin J found Singh not guilty of murder due to diminished responsibility, but guilty of manslaughter.[19] On 24 June she was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment with four years of non-parole period, including the time she had served since 1997.[20] Cinque's mother was deeply unhappy with the short sentence.[21]

Madhavi Rao's trial[edit]

Rao was tried separately in late 1999 on charges of murder, manslaughter, attempted murder and administering a stupefying drug.[22] On 10 December Rao was found not guilty of all charges against her. Crispin J found that there was reasonable doubt that she had assisted in the attempt and rejected the prosecutor's argument that Rao had a legal duty of care to Cinque.[23] As of 2004 Rao was married and no longer lived in Australia.[24]

In literature[edit]

Singh's actions have been the subject of fiction and non-fiction in Australia. Helen Garner's book Joe Cinque's Consolation, published 2004, was a widely publicised account of Singh's crime and trial, together with the Cinque family's response to it. Singh's actions were also the inspiration for a play, Criminology by Tom Wright and Lally Katz, performed at Melbourne's Malthouse Theatre in August 2007.[25]

After release[edit]

Singh was released on parole in October 2001, but returned to jail in April 2004 after breaching her parole conditions by smoking marijuana.[24] She was released on 5 August 2004, in the same month that Joe Cinque's Consolation was published, after challenging her re-imprisonment on a technicality.[26][27]

Singh gave interviews shortly after the release of the book, recounting her own memories of the killing and expressing regret at not agreeing to an interview by Garner.[24] She told interviewers that she wished to redress some of the book's imbalance towards her.[28]

Singh has completed a masters in criminology at Sydney University, having attended classes on day release from Emu Plains Correctional Centre.[24][29]

In June 2005, concern was expressed in the New South Wales Parliament about Singh's employment with the Cabramatta Community Centre.[30] The public were reassured that Singh was not employed to distribute clean injecting equipment and that her employment was on a time-limited project.[31] In 2005, a documentary was being made about Singh by James Ricketson which covered her employment in Cabramatta. The documentary was reportedly to be called Atonement.[27]

Singh is now writing her PhD thesis at the University of Sydney on Offending Women: Toward a Greater Understanding of Female Criminality.[32]

An adapted version of Singh's PhD thesis is available as an ebook on Lulu, simply titled 'Offending Women.'


  1. ^ Armitage, Liz (24 October 1998). "Accused Spoke Of Rampage, Court Told". The Canberra Times. 
  2. ^ a b Armitage, Liz (5 November 1997). "ACT Law Students "conspire To Kill"". The Canberra Times. 
  3. ^ Armitage, Liz (6 November 1998). "Singh And Boyfriend Appeared To Be Happy Couple: Witness". 
  4. ^ Armitage, Liz (7 November 1998). "Witness Tells Court Of Murder Plan". The Canberra Times. 
  5. ^ Armitage, Liz (11 November 1998). "Accused Wanted To Kill Herself: Friend". The Canberra Times. 
  6. ^ Armitage, Liz (31 December 1997). "Passions Parade Before The Bench". The Canberra Times. 
  7. ^ a b Armitage, Liz (29 October 1998). "Singh "nervous" Buying Heroin, Court Hears". The Canberra Times. 
  8. ^ "Man's Death 'Not To Plan'". The Newcastle Herald. 21 October 1998. 
  9. ^ Whittington, Josh (13 February 1998). "20-minute 000 call". The Daily Telegraph (Australia) (News Corporation). 
  10. ^ Armitage, Liz (23 April 1998). "Drug Death: Law Student To Stand Trial". The Canberra Times. And I had some heroin and I just kept pumping it into him. 
  11. ^ Whittington, Josh (22 October 1998). "A Very Broad Smile: Officer Tells of Accused's Action". The Daily Telegraph (Australia) (News Corporation). 
  12. ^ "Woman On Murder Charge". The Canberra Times. 28 October 1997. 
  13. ^ Armitage, Liz (6 November 1997). "Bail For Student Linked To Party Murder". The Canberra Times. 
  14. ^ "Murder Case Bail Decision Adjourned". The Canberra Times. 5 December 1997. 
  15. ^ "Law student trial aborted". The Daily Telegraph (Australia). 12 November 1998. 
  16. ^ "Murder Accused To Face Trial By Judge". The Canberra Times. 17 November 1998. 
  17. ^ Armitage, Liz (13 April 1999). "Defendant Vain, Self-centred: Expert Witness". The Canberra Times. 
  18. ^ Armitage, Liz (15 April 1999). "Singh Was "rational" On Night Charged". The Canberra Times. 
  19. ^ "Impaired, guilty of manslaughter.". The Canberra Times. 23 April 1999. 
  20. ^ Ludlow, Mark (25 June 1998). "Quick Parole For Killer". The Canberra Times. 
  21. ^ Hamilton, Fiona (24 June 1999). "ACT - Woman who killed boyfriend may be free in 2001". Australian Associated Press. 
  22. ^ Dickins, Jim (11 December 1999). "A Dark, Twisted Saga Ends With Acquittal". The Canberra Times. 
  23. ^ Moscaritolo, Maria (11 December 1999). "Cleared of heroin murder". The Daily Telegraph (Australia) (News Corporation). 
  24. ^ a b c d Wyndham, Susan (9 August 2004). "On death and madness". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 2008-05-24. 
  25. ^ Usher, Robin (8 August 2007). "Joe Cinque's alteration: remaking a tragic story". The Age (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 2008-05-24. 
  26. ^ Jayne-Maree Sedgman (reporter) (2004-08-06). "Another chapter in Canberra murder story: Anu Singh speaks". The World Today. ABC. ABC Local Radio. 
  27. ^ a b Neill, Rosemary (30 May 2005). "Of sins and needles". The Australian (News Corporation). 
  28. ^ Anne Delaney (producer) and Phillip Adams (interviewer) (2004-09-23). "Joe Cinque is Dead". Late Night Live. ABC. Radio National. 
  29. ^ Devine, Miranda (5 June 2005). "Her new career's to die for". The Sun Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  30. ^ Oldfield, David (2005). "Ms Anu Singh and needle distribution program". New South Wales Legislative Council Hansard: Questions without notice. Parliament of New South Wales. Archived from the original on 2006-02-18. Retrieved 2006-06-28. 
  31. ^ New South Wales Minister for Health (2005). "Ms Anu Singh and needle distribution program". New South Wales Legislative Council Hansard: Questions without notice; Deferred answers. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 2006-06-28. [dead link]
  32. ^ "The University of Sydney- student research projects". 2010.